Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Hangman at Home

The Hangman at Home
by Carl Sandburg

What does a hangman think about
When he goes home at night from work?
When he sits down with his wife and
Children for a cup of coffee and a
Plate of ham and eggs, do they ask
Him if it was a good day's work
And everything went well or do they
Stay off some topics and kill about
The weather, baseball, politics
And the comic strips in the papers
And the movies? Do they look at his
Hands when he reaches for the coffee
Or the ham and eggs? If the little
Ones say, Daddy, play horse, here's
A rope -- does he answer like a joke:
I seen enough rope for today?
Or does his face light up like a
Bonfire of joy and does he say:
It's a good and dandy world we live
'In. And if a white face moon looks
In through a window where a baby girl
Sleeps and the moon-gleams mix with
Baby ears and baby hair -- the hangman --
How does he act then? It must be easy
For him. Anything is easy for a hangman,
I guess.

This poem is really interesting. It just takes a look at an unsual profession, and treats it as normal. It is a given that a hangman is not a typical or desireable profession, but the question nonetheless exists as to whether the individual who supports his family by employing himself with such a dispicable profession does so simply to put food on the table or does so because he is a sick individual. Sandburg takes on an almost comedic tone analyzing the hangman as if he had any other profession, nonetheless, focusing on the unusuality of the profession. It is strange to think of a person who does something so horrific all day long as being an ordinary person, somebody's husband, somebody's father. That's what I like about this poem. It is someone whose job is probably the most horrific job that a person can have, and yet at the end of the day, he comes home to his wife and kids the same as any doctor, lawyer, mailman, or teacher. This poem analyzes how he would be in his personal life and allows us to think about something that ordinarily would never cross many people's minds.

2 Comments:

Blogger Niel said...

This poem gives thought to something that might not be normally given much. I actually have thought about people whose job it is to execute people and it seems like an awful job to be involved with. I do not think the people who pull the noose around someone's neck is necessarily the one responsible for the death of that person, but what if that person is innocent of his crime? It seems like the person whose job is an executioner must be very above their job and not think about it all that much. Or if they do think about it, they must think they are doing well by ridding the world of evil or be in a very depressed state for killing people.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Lilan said...

I liked the poem you chose because it brings up moral issues of what it means to be "civilized" or what is good or bad, or if the job you do affects who you are outside of the job.

12:30 AM  

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